Pamalha, Chiapas is a Tzeltal town. Traditional clothing is still worn by many people in the town.
Karen Elwell
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Pamalha 1
Pamalha 1.jpg
Pamalha. 3
Pamalha. 3.jpg
Pamalhá is a hamlet that's part of the large municipio of Chilón. Pamalhá has the good fortune to be located on the main highway that runs from Palenque to Ocosingo, and then on to San Cristobal. Pamalhá is also located near the turn-off for the road to the waterfalls of Agua Azul, which are visited by thousands of tourists annually. To take advantage of this cascade of visitors, local people, both Tzeltal and Mestizo, sell traditional clothing and other textiles at stands alongside the highway.
The blouses worn in Pamalha, and throughout the lowland Tzeltal region, are made from a white, synthetic fabric, and decorated with bands of fine cross-stitch embroidery and lace ruffles at the necklines. Women wear these blouses with indigo skirts that are decorated with wide bands of colorful satin ribbons. This skirt is folded to form a deep v-shaped pleat in front of the body, and the colorful ribbons tightly encircle the woman's hips. A rather narrow, cotton belt woven in colorful stripes is used to secure the woman's skirt. Also for sale at the clothing stalls are strips of the wonderful cross-stitched fabric that is used to decorate the blouses and small articles like purses and bags made from this fabric.

In January 2006, we drove from Ocosingo to Palenque through Chilón Municipio after an absence of 3 years. We noticed two changes in the local costume of the region. First, many women (especially younger women) had added many more satin ribbons to their dark blue skirts. The horizontal ribbons now extended from hips to knees on many skirts.

Second, about 50% of all women were wearing colorful satin aprons over their skirts. These "delanteras" are also trimmed with satin ribbons; women use them as capes in chilly conditions. We stopped at the home of a local family we knew and purchased one of the aprons, which appears in the gallery, and more of the irresistible embroidered bags.